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IDM, Survey: 8 out of 10 Albanians believe that small and big corruption is widespread

IDM, Survey: 8 out of 10 Albanians believe that small and big corruption is

The annual survey of public opinion "Trust in Government 2023", conducted by the Institute for Democracy and Mediation in all 61 municipalities of Albania, revealed that the majority of participants  (81.5%)  rate major corruption as "widespread" or "very widespread" ", marking an increase of 4.8 points compared to 2022. Only 15.6% of citizens see it as "not widespread" or "not at all widespread". Distrust towards the prosecution has also increased. A large part of respondents  (62.8%) do not believe in the ability of the prosecution to handle cases of major corruption, or express 5.9 percent more distrust than a year ago, when this indicator was 56.9%.

An equally large majority  (81.3%)  of them rate petty corruption as "widespread" or "very wide." Only 16.2% consider it "not widespread" or "not at all widespread". While 56.8% of them expressed a lack of confidence in the prosecutor's office, that it can effectively pursue cases of minor corruption. However, trust has increased by 9% from 2022, when mistrust was 65.8%.

By combining the data, it emerged that eight out of ten Albanians believe that small and big corruption is widespread and very widespread in the country. According to them, the most corrupt institutions in 2023 are justice  (17.5%),  health  (14.8%)  and the police  (7.2%) .

"Even in this survey, the trend of all these last years continues with very high percentages of the perception that the Albanian public has regarding the spread of high and low level corruption. The average over the years is over 77 percent of respondents. In order to understand the fundamental causes of this extremely high perception of corruption, many social and political developments in the country must be studied",  says Besjana Kuçi, one of the authors of this study, for VOA.

Despite this high perception of the spread of corruption, only 14.7% of respondents claimed to have witnessed cases of central government corruption and 21.6% of them say they witnessed local government corruption.

During this survey, one third of citizens  (29.8%) claimed to have given bribes to receive services  to central government officials and the same number of citizens to local government officials. Among the reasons for giving a bribe, more than half of the citizens  (57.8%)  claimed that they were asked for a bribe, the rest  (21.7%)  said that they pay to get better services next time, while others  (14.8%)  that pays in gratitude for services received. Only a minority  (10.9%)  of those who paid bribes reported it to the authorities. A large proportion  (39%)  of those who did not report said they see bribery as common practice, others  (32.2%)  thought reporting was useless and fewer  (8.3%)  said they feared retaliation .

The least trusted institutions in Albania during 2023 are political parties  (25.5%) , parliament  (29.1%) , courts  (33.4%) , even with a drop of 3-5 points compared to the previous year. Likewise, public trust in the president has dropped by 6 percentage points compared to a year ago.

The bodies of justice appear in this survey with opposite views; courts  (33.4%)  and the prosecution  (33.7%)  are listed as the least trusted institutions for citizens. But on the other hand, the Special Prosecutor's Office Against Organized Crime and Corruption - SPAK  (60.3%)  is ranked among the most trusted institutions, and even marked a significant increase of 10 percentage points compared to a year ago. More than half of the respondents  (50.2%)  affirm that the reformed justice system is giving positive help in the development of the country, while on the other hand, a significant part  (44.9%)  of citizens do not agree with this statement.

The respondents rank international organizations such as NATO (76.7%) , the UN  (74.3%)  and the EU  (74.7%) as the most trusted institutions  , followed by local religious institutions  (67%) , as well as civil society organizations  (55.7 %) .

As they ranked among the least trusted bodies, respondents consider the courts  (35.5%)  and the prosecution  (35.3%)  as the most politically influenced institutions of all others, although with an improvement compared to 2022  (respectively 41.8% and 38.6%). of respondents).  The perception regarding the influence of politics has improved during 2023 compared to a year ago in all institutions, but the biggest changes were noted in the media  (-9 points) , SPAK  (-8 points)  and courts  (-7 point) .

Nearly 60 percent of Albanians surveyed think that the central and local governments have transparency and accountability. Most of them think that international organizations hold the government accountable more than local institutions. The Supreme State Control  (58.6%)  and the parliament  (49.5%)  are regarded as the most effective domestic institutions for government accountability, although with a significant decrease from a year ago  (-5 and -9 points, respectively).

Citizens' insecurity in everyday life has also increased. 67.6% of the surveyed citizens say that they do not feel safe in everyday life, with a significant increase of 8 percentage points from the level of 59.3% in 2022. The respondents claimed that the three main reasons for insecurity are criminality, poor quality and standard health , and job insecurity. The rest, 32.4%, said they felt safe.

In 2023, 38.3% of respondents said they want to leave the country to emigrate, roughly the same as in 2022. Most of them are young, 18-25 years old and students. Among the main reasons for wanting to go to another country, they list employment, better wages, better education and medical opportunities, as well as reuniting with other family members. Only 5.5% of respondents state that they want to move to other areas within the country. The rest  (56.2%)  of the respondents said that they are not planning to leave their place of residence.

The participation of citizens in consultations and gatherings has remained low or has further decreased. The respondents pointed out that the most important areas that should be treated with priority by the government in the next 5 years are health care  (54%)  and education  (38%) , followed by tourism, transport infrastructure and agriculture. Only a minority of them  (10.9%)  claimed to have been invited to central government consultation processes, and only a minority  (18.5%)  had received invitations to consultations at the local level, while actual participation has remained consistently low over the years, under 25% of citizens. Their participation in a demonstration / rally or signing a petition fell to 25.2% in 2023, against 32.2% the year before.

Only four out of ten citizens  (39.3%)  said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the provision of basic public services. The greatest dissatisfaction is related to judicial services, public transport and the police service, while the highest ratings were given to water supply  (47.2%) , cleaning service  (47.3%) , education  (46.2%)  and public health services  (44 %) . The vast majority of respondents  (90.7%)  think that the protection of personal data is important or very important, but only a third of them  (35%)  believe in the ability of public actors to manage electronic personal data and more even fewer of them (30.8%) said the same about the private sector.

The "Trust in Government" survey notes that public opinion is being influenced by progress in the EU integration process, while the authors claim that corruption continues to be a challenge, and most responses from citizens are driven by steps taken to combat it, alongside investigations criminal cases, where high-ranking officials such as former ministers and MPs are involved./ VOA

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